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Hazing, drinking games and intense physical training: documents reveal why ATO Fraternity is suspended

The University of Tennessee came to an agreement with Alpha Tau Omega to shut down the UT frat until 2026.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — The University of Tennessee released new documents about the recent suspension of its oldest fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, saying it suspended the program after repeated violations of hazing, drinking games, intense physical training and other incidents.

In a Notice of Allegations, obtained through an Open Records Request, the University of Tennessee outlined several "pointless activities designed to reinforce a hierarchy of Members over [New Members]."

The documents alleged new members were "required to consume alcohol to the point of intoxication, had alcohol poured on them, had glass bottles thrown at them, and were told to consume unsavory concoctions of food and/or drinks."

The notice said new members had to play drinking games like "Edward Fortyhands," a game where someone has to drink 40-ounce bottles of beers taped to both their hands.

Beyond the alcohol, an anonymous person told UT some new members had to "sleep in the boiler room in the on-campus Chapter house." 

The University said their investigation found one new member was called the "Blueberry Pledge" and had to "carry blueberries in his pockets," according to the document.

UT's summary from their investigation told of "call-downs"-- 'brothers' would call or text new members to meet at a location "with little to no notice." During those "call-downs," the summary said new members were subject to "intense physical training that you might do in the military."

"Bows and toes" refers to one of those physical exercises, where "individuals hold themselves up on their elbows and toes while keeping their backs straight." 

During one of those "call-downs," UT's summary of their investigation said new members "were told to look up and then were sprayed with a fire extinguisher." The document said ATO members provided "false information" to the University of Tennessee Police Department when they responded. 

10News reviewed all of the UT Police Department's calls for service at the ATO house on campus over the past five years. Of the 106 calls, police responded to that house 39 times because of a fire alarm. 

Calls for service showed multiple times where police were called to the house because someone deliberately manipulated the fire alarm, a felony in the state of Tennessee.

UT police also responded to multiple noise complaints and cars parked in reserved spaces at the ATO house. 

As police responded to more calls, UTPD records show they conducted more property checks and walkthroughs at the ATO house. 

On November 22, UT suspended ATO for five years and detailed several standards of conduct they violated, including harm to others, hazing, fire safety, alcohol-related conduct and violating administrative sanctions. 

When UT investigated new allegations of hazing this year, it said the ATO chapter was already on disciplinary probation for previous hazing and alcohol violations. 

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